San Bernardino Tragedy Prompts a Candlelight Vigil at UCR

Several UCR alumni working in San Bernardino killed or wounded

UCR candlelight vigil to be held Dec. 4.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( — The tragic shooting in San Bernardino Wednesday that killed 14 people and injured 21 has prompted UC Riverside to organize a candlelight vigil for 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4 near the center of campus.

The vigil is open to the entire community and honors all those killed or injured in the attack. Speakers will include the chancellor, student leadership and the president of UCR’s Alumni Association.

“Our community,  and many others, are still in shock from yesterday’s events in San Bernardino,” Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox said in a note to campus.  “We mourn the senseless loss of life and send our sympathy to those touched by this tragedy, including several members of the UCR family.”

One of the people killed in the attack, 58-year-old Damian Meins, graduated from UCR in Economics in 1978. He spent his career in environmental safety. His two daughters are also UCR graduates.

Another person listed among the dead was Sierra Clayborn, who graduated in 2010 in biochemistry.

Jennifer Stevens, who graduated this past June in environmental science, was hospitalized, as was Denise Peraza, who earned her master’s degree in Environmental Science at UCR in 2013.

As the crisis unfolded on Tuesday, the campus was on high alert. UCR Police conferred with other law enforcement agencies about the areas impacted, said John Freese, who is the assistant police chief of UCR’s force, made up of 30 sworn officers certified by the California Commission on Police Officer Standards and Training.

Meanwhile, UCR police vehicles were positioned on sidewalks and uniformed officers patrolled in visible places.

“Today we have members of the police department responding to students who may have concerns about safety on campus, and we have officers pulled in on overtime to provide extra visibility on campus,” Freese said.

In addition, UCR police are trained to respond to any crisis response on campus, including the possibility of an active shooter. “We have a cooperative relationship with the City of Riverside, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, and resources if they are needed to be called into service,” said Freese.

The UCR Counseling Center, which has a staff of 10 counselors, saw more students than usual.

And UCR phones were busier than normal, as parents called to check on the safety of students, and whether the campus would close. Because there was never any identified threat to the campus, normal operations and classes continued on Dec. 2. But that does not mean that the community was untouched.

Chancellor Wilcox, in his message to campus, asked people not speculate on the motives for the shooting. “It is important that we avoid falling into Islamophobia or other forms of intolerance, which cause harm to members of our community. During this time of mourning, it is our duty to unite as a community to heal, to help those around us heal, and to seek solutions, together.”

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